The President's Message - 3 June 2015

01 June, 2015

The President's Message - 3 June 2015

RACP Congress 2015 - a resounding success

I am immensely pleased to report that RACP Congress 2015, held from Sunday, 24 May to Wednesday, 27 May, was a resounding success. On the Sunday we welcomed 153 new Fellows and Clinical Diploma Awardees at College Ceremony. We also acknowledged the recipients of our most prestigious awards and heard from College Fellow and Medical Oncologist, Dr Ranjana Srivastava on the privilege and responsibility of being a physician. I look forward to highlighting the achievements of all our award recipients, including those announced at the Gala Dinner, in the July issue of RACP News.

Congress was also an opportunity for the College to promote a proactive and progressive agenda, one that launched a controversial policy on asylum seekers; embraced the complexity of medicinal marijuana and end of life care; and grappled with confronting issues like gender identity and Indigenous health.

Monday's launch of the College's position statement on Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health and presentation of the results of our end of life care survey were well received by delegates, and achieved substantial media coverage across the Guardian, Herald Sun and on ABC's popular AM program. I thank Fellow and trainee members who were involved in the development of these important documents.

During Monday's program, the College's 76th Annual General Meeting was held, with a good number of members in attendance. One item of business that required members' vote was a special resolution to consider minor amendments to the College's Constitution to correct a current anomaly with respect to voting electronically online.

The amendments were approved by the requisite number of members voting in favour of the special resolution.

The total votes cast were as follows:


FOR - 1030



TOTAL - 1075

Tuesday's program commenced with two breakfast sessions; one on medicinal cannabis with international key note speaker, Mr Terry Roycroft from the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre (Canada), the other on College Reform. The breakfast workshop on College Reform, which was attended by more than 50 members, was an opportunity to discuss the rationale and work behind the proposed changes and take questions from members on proposed Board structure and College Council model. These workshops preceded the Ferguson-Glass Oration, delivered by Dr Stephen Bolsin and Howard Williams Oration delivered by Professor John Whitehall. Dr Nicki Murdock, President of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division launched the RACP Newborn Screening Position Statement, which was covered in the media by Medical Observer.

Wednesday brought discussion of wide-ranging issues from workforce and integrated care to telehealth, gender dysphoria, and the ageing physician. These were preceded by the Priscilla Kincaid-Smith Oration delivered by Dr Norman Swan who spoke of the implications of a consumer centred specialist health care system, and the Cottrell Memorial Lecture given by Adjunct Professor James Ward of the Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, who spoke of the forgotten epidemic of sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses among the First peoples of Australia, particularly young adults.

I would like to thank all speakers, presenters, Orators, Chairs and panelists for enabling a truly thought provoking Congress.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley

President, RACP



It was a great pleasure to open RACP Congress 2015 by launching the College's Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement. The Position Statement is the culmination of years of vocal opposition by our College to the damaging policies surrounding asylum seekers in Australia and highlights our concern that these policies might be adopted in New Zealand. This launch followed the opening plenary addresses from Elaine Pearson, Australian Director, Human Rights Watch on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and Paris Aristotle, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation House on the ethical and political dilemmas of refugee health.

The harm caused by immigration detention over the last two decades is irrefutable; the evidence is clear. The immigration detention of children, men and women is causing severe and lasting damage to their health, and this Statement calls for it to end. As physicians and paediatricians we know that the health needs of refugees and asylum seekers are often complex - arising from their unique and damaging experiences. We also know that refugees and asylum seekers need good access to healthcare and other longer-term support services (such as housing, language tuition, education and employment) to ensure they have the opportunity to realise their full potential and contribute to our rich, diverse societies.

The Statement was developed and produced by the College's Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Working Party, led by senior paediatrician Associate Professor Karen Zwi. A/Prof Zwi has significant experience in Refugee and Asylum Seeker health and has visited and cared for children being held in detention centres. The Statement has already received resounding support from across the medical community, and many Fellows and trainees have indicated their pride that their College has taken its strong stance on this important issue and speaking out on matters that [they feel strongly about and resonate with them]. The media coverage of the Statement launch has also been notable, with feature pieces in the Guardian and ABC Online and an interview over the weekend on the highly rated ABC AM radio program.

With this Statement, we kick off a reinvigorated advocacy campaign for an end to these harms. As physicians and paediatricians, Fellows and trainees, we can use our voice to advocate for change. I invite you to write to your local MPs and Senators to let them know your concerns about these polices. The College will continue to speak publicly on these issues as well as directly to decision makers on our opposition to policies which deny appropriate care and cause harm to those who seek our protection.


Please take the time to read the Position Statement. You can watch our below and, if you're on twitter, please show your support by sharing the video on the hashtag #HEALTHnotHARM.



On Monday, 25 May during RACP Congress 2015, the College held its Annual General Meeting. At the meeting, members of the Board and I communicated our College's key achievements for 2014, and provided answers to questions received with notice from members.

This included the College's response to a question from a member on the way the College invests its financial assets. I am pleased to announce the Board has agreed to divest investments that have been identified as being directly and materially involved in fossil fuel activities.

At this stage we have identified these investments to be worth about $2.3 million out of approximately $90 million in total.

The principal cause of rising global temperatures and the subsequent climate change effects of increased weather events, rising seas levels, and impacts on human health, is burning of fossil fuels.


Since the RACP is a health organisation with an objective of improving the health of our population, divestment is an important action that leads to reduced carbon outputs and achievement of our health objective i.e. to ensure better health outcomes for our patients into the future.


This is just the first step to the College playing a leadership role, not just nationally but globally, when we will launch the Lancet Commission Report in June, which members will receive more information on shortly.

A proposed academy of paediatrics and child health

In response to a growing understanding that paediatricians desire a stronger, more autonomous professional voice for children, young people and their families, a Paediatrics & Child Health Division (PCHD) steering group has been examining options for a new organisation to meet these needs. This group, chaired by Professor Kevin Forsyth, has consulted across Australia, New Zealand and internationally and have determined that the most appropriate model would unite all paediatricians, yet allow groups within paediatrics to continue with their specialised interests.

The steering group recognises that paediatrics and child health is unique in its broad, holistic focus on the needs of children, young people and their families, and strongly believes this organisation should be able to interact with all paediatricians, irrespective of special interest or discipline.

The process is still in its very early stages and a business plan will be developed in liaison with the PCHD Council. Conversations will also continue with each of the paediatric specialty societies including the Paediatric Society of New Zealand to explore how the two organsiations will best be able to collaborate.


I encourage you to read the article from Dr Jenny Proimos that was published in last Friday's PCHD eBulletin.




The Library is regarded as one of the most comprehensive collections of Australian medical history, as a general reference library on medical history as a whole, a thorough reference library on medical history from 1750 onwards and a research level library on Australian medical history.


The Library was founded shortly after the initial foundation of the College in 1938. Its early focus was assisting Fellows in current medical research but it was soon realised that this function could be performed better by university libraries with their greater resources and expertise.


The Cultural Assets Working Party (CAWP) is currently assessing the best way to maintain and preserve our extensive collection. This includes determining :


If the current environment and location is suitable for the maintenance of rare and precious books

If the current library services are accessible to all members

How to best upgrade and improve the current cataloguing system.

The CAWG is currently working on a number of strategies to resolve these issues, The CAWG is therefore seeking member feedback for any suggestions on the future management of the Library, as well as any other expectations of services you believe should be provided by the Library. If you have any feedback or suggestions, the CAWP would like to hear from you. Please provide feedback via before Friday, 29 May 2015.




A group of Fellows and trainees (less than 2 per cent of the total membership) have brought forward some motions that compel the Board to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) at a cost of $100, 000. The requistion is a legal document, not a petition. The College must hold this meeting and offer the changes as written. The EGM will be held on Thursday, 9 July 2015. The EGM will mean that members will have to consider four motions that propose to change the College's Constitution. It is important to note that these motions are quite separate and are not related to the governance reforms that the College has been discussing with members over the last 12 months.


Please ensure that you read the motions carefully and consider all viewpoints


My personal viewpoint is as follows: I recommend that members vote against each of the resolutions being put to the EGM. Your elected Board also recommends you vote no.


I respect the passion all our members feel for our College and its future. I welcome debate, openness and transparency in a way that is workable and in the very best interests of all our College membership. I will complete my term as President in 11 months and will return to being what I have always wanted to be - a Fellow of this noble College. I have no conflict of interest - I do not want to recreate a committee or join a committee or run for office or control the agenda in any fashion. I just want what is best for the College, the profession and most importantly the community we serve.


The Board has met to carefully consider the four motions to be put to members at the EGM. The Board concluded that each of the resolutions no matter how well intentioned would likely lead to serious unintended negative consequences. Hence they recommend voting no. More information on the carefully considered reasoning by your Board is available here.


I am most concerned that intervention by less than 2 per cent of the membership may force your democratically elected Board to consider policies and actions that are not in the best interests of the College or the community as a whole. This is not democracy and transparency in action but the opposite.


Your College, through your Board and various College bodies, is deeply committed to transparency, democracy, and enhancing the welfare of society through various activities and arrangements including:


Establishing electronic voting for College members to vote at General Meetings should they not be able to attend in person;

Establishing an Ethics Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr Greg Stewart, President of The Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine;

Overseeing education governance reforms to maintain quality standards in the training of future physicians - recognised when this year received a further 6 years accreditation from the AMC/MCNZ;

Actively supporting measures to enhance the welfare of society through its Indigenous committees (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee and Maori Committee), Close the Gap program, EVOLVE initiative (to provide evidence-based care to patients), consumer engagement, end-of-life and asylum seeker/refugee health programs, smoking and alcohol policy working party programs;

Providing opportunities  for 500 - 600 Fellows to actively engaged in supporting the College's policy & advocacy activities;

Facilitating 2000 Fellows and trainees represent the College on Committees, as Supervisors of Training and Examiners each year;

Undertaking an extensive and transparent consultation process in relation to College Governance Reform over the past year to engage all members of the College.

I ask that every one of you exercise your democratic right as members and vote to allow the College to progress with its role of creating an active, innovative and member-focussed organisation committed to the highest quality of physician training and continuing professional development.


All members have been sent a hard copy of the Notice of Meeting with a number of other documents in the mail. All information from the requisitioners and the Board is also on the College's website and on the electronic portal where you can vote online.


Further comments and critiques send to the College will be welcome and placed on the website for all members to view so a considered decision can be made and all can be fully informed of every viewpoint.


It is very important that you vote. This is your democratic right.


How you vote is your decision but I personally will be voting no to all four resolutions.


This is not a vote on College Reform, but it is an important vote for the future of your College.




EOI: RACP Climate Change and Health Working Party, closes 5 June 2015


With climate change increasingly recognised as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century", climate change and health has been identified as a priority for the College's Policy & Advocacy work in 2015.


The College is calling for Expressions of Interest from Fellows and trainees with expertise on the health impacts of climate change to join a new Climate Change and Health Working Party. This Working Party will lead the development of positions and policies that will support the College's ability to contribute to relevant policy discussions, recognising that the College's policy legitimacy rests on comment being consistent with physicians' professional expertise. It will also lead the Health impacts of climate change - a global advocacy initiative, which will involve developing an international consensus statement on the need for action on climate change to combat health impacts.


The Expression of Interest Application Form and Terms of Reference for the Working Party are available.


Expressions of Interest must be submitted by close of business on Friday, 5 June 2015 to


If you have any further questions regarding the establishment of the Working Party, please contact Angela Hua, Policy Officer on


EOI: Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Working Party, closes 19 June 2015


Applications are invited from Fellows and trainees of the College who are interested in becoming a member of the College's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Working Party.


Australia's NDIS is a new way of providing community links and individualised support for people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers. Under the NDIS, people with a disability will have greater control over government funded disability support services. Individuals will exercise choice and control over a needs-based funding envelope to purchase supports that will most effectively meet their needs.


The RACP has been approached to contribute physician's perspective and expertise at various stages of the NDIS roll-out, and is establishing a Working Party to lead this work.


Fellows who are interested in joining the NDIS Working Party are invited to complete the Expression of Interest form by COB Friday, 19 June 2015. The NDIS Working Party Terms of Reference are also available.


Please email your completed EOI form and CV to, or for further information please contact Alexander Lynch at




Early Childhood Development Workshop Representative, 23 June 2015, Darwin


Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum (NTAHF) is holding a workshop which aims to gather experts on Early Childhood Development to produce and gain agreement on an ideal, evidenced based core services early childhood model for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. This one day workshop is focussed on utilizing local expert knowledge from a variety of services, pertinent to early childhood development, to achieve outcomes.


If you have expert knowledge in an area of child health, you are invited to attend this workshop. Please email your interest to


The ANZ Society of the History of Medicine 14th Biennial Conference - Missions, Methods and Management, 30 June to 4 July 2015, Sydney

Joint delegates for lectures by distinguished international and local speakers, attend a witness seminar focusing on changes in the administration of health services over the past 50 years, and hear researchers present their original work.


Venue: Australian Catholic University, North Sydney

Date: Tuesday, 30 June to Saturday, 4 July

Registration: Please visit the ANZSHOM Conference website.


Australasian Symposium on Perioperative Medicine, 15 to 17 October 2015, Noosa

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists will host the 4th Annual Australasian Symposium on Perioperative Medicine, themed "The post-operative period: From recovery into the unknown".


Venue: Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa, Noosa, Queensland

Date: Thursday, 15 October to Sunday, 18 October 2015

Registration: Please visit the conference website.


Australasian Doctors Health Conference 2015, 22 to 25 October 2015, Melbourne

In line with our theme of "Pathways and Progress", we will focus on proactive and reactive approaches to optimising physician health. Our two day academic program will appeal to all who have an interest in the health and welfare of our profession. We will discuss and showcase some of the advances in understanding the health of medical professionals and some of the great initiatives in improving welfare and support systems for doctors and medical students.


Venue: Pullman Mercure Albert Park, Melbourne Victoria

Date: Thursday, 22 October to Sunday, October 25 2015

Registration: Please visit the conference website.



RACMA E-dgy Issues Webinars, various dates in 2015

The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administration in conjunction with the Rural Health Continuing Education Stream is hosting a set of E-dgy Issues webinars based on contemporary and ‘e-dgy issues' that are current to health services. The programs provide doctors in rural and remote areas opportunities to enhance their CPD and sustain best practice in medical leadership and management.



July2015 - Playing ball: Embracing collaborative care and reducing load on rural practice through thru multidisciplinary integration

August 2015 - Conquering fragmented rural mental health and other specialist medical services (telehealth)

October 2015 - Ageism, sexism, bullying, respect or un-esteemed collaborations between medical professionals. Are we duplicating what is taught in medicine?


For enquiries regarding the E-dgy Issues Program contact Carmel at




Career Development Fellowships offered for 2016 are:


RACP Fellows Career Development Fellowship - to encourage and support the promotion of research in medical specialty areas represented by the RACP.


Don & Lorraine Jacquot Fellowship - to provide opportunities for nephrologists who are Fellows of the RACP and who have completed a post graduate research higher degree; or have substantial research experience; and are still at an early stage in their career.


The David Prast Career Development Fellowship - to provide support to Fellows and Advanced Trainees of the RACP to further research into improving functional outcomes for people living with spinal cord injury and to further the vision of David Prast.


The Career Development Fellowships are intended for researchers for whom it has been over seven years since the completion of their research higher degree and/or who are not eligible for either Research Entry or Research Establishment awards.


Applications for the 2016 Career Development Fellowships close Monday, 15 June at 5.00pm AEST. Application forms and further information can be found online.


For information on all awards offered through the RACP Foundation please visit the website

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